In 2005, an artist involved with Art
Aids Art notified our team that she intended to sell her house in Khayelitsha
and wondered if we would be interested in purchasing the property. After
years of working in borrowed spaces, this was a perfect opportunity to create a
permanent home for Art Aids Art and a resource for the community.
Coincidentally, co-founder Dorothy
(after the Wizard of Oz character) was approaching a milestone birthday.
She asked friends to forget about over-the-hill gifts and “instead, buy a piece
of the Khayelitsha house, a ‘yellow brick’, because there’s no place like home.”
With these donations, Art Aids Art
purchased the property in 2006.
The next step was to design the
space. California architect R. Steven Lewis, who was commencing a Loeb
Fellowship at Harvard University, offered to assist. In 2007, Lewis
assembled a group of students from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design,
intending to meet for a few hours to brainstorm. The weekend project
turned into a passionate six-month endeavor. That summer, five of the
students secured funding to travel to Khayelitsha, where they met with
residents to solicit additional input (project
On December 1, 2008, Art Aids Art
and the surrounding community celebrated the grand opening of eKhaya eKasi, or
“Home in the ‘Hood”. The multi-purpose community center is strategically
located in a residential area in Khayelitsha – Area 39 – with few community
services or economic opportunities and serves as an oasis for families impacted
by poverty and HIV/AIDS.
Not only does eKhaya eKasi now
operate as a home base for our educational programs, it will generate income in
order to support the local economy and become self-sustaining by 2015. To
achieve this goal, eKhaya eKasi houses a unique
combination of small businesses – an art boutique, tea shop and bed &
breakfast – intended to draw tourists into an area previously avoided due to
blight and crime.
“Education and self-sufficiency are
a powerful combination for AIDS-prevention,” insisted Art Aids Art co-founder
Dorothy Garcia. “Education provides understanding of how AIDS is
transmitted, and financial independence allows women to avoid trading their
bodies for food and shelter. They are able to make decisions on their own